Nilaveli is a small beach resort not far from Trincomalee which was heavily affected by the 2004 tsunami. Strolling by the beach we saw fragments of buildings submerged in the sand, with much of the destruction remaining still as a reminder to those who were affected and still lived there. We met one man who recalled how he climbed a palm tree for refuge during the tsunami and luckily survived the disaster! Many local families provided homestays just off the beach for ₹1,500 which included breakfast and an evening meal. The room we were given had been newly built which was great and the mother of the family was a fantastic cook, serving us the best chicken curry and rice in Sri Lanka. The experience was very local with much of the area deserted and unpopulated by tourists, leaving vast stretches of beach untouched. It was very much a paradise, romanticized by its desolation.
Pasikuda seemed to be the seaside hotspot for local families, travelling by bus with their picnics in hand. It was great to mingle with locals and join a ball game in the ocean, involving lots of splashing and foreign intrigue but we embraced it and had a lot of fun. On other surrounding beaches we could see many fancy resorts that had crept in and some still under construction, awaiting the peak season for the arrival of tourists. Being on a budget we found an off beach bungalow for ₹1,600 per night with an outside washroom attached at the back. It had a jungle-esque vibe being surrounded by trees and topical flora, accompanied by nocturnal wildlife perfect for our basic needs.
We arrived in Arugam Bay with the motive to surf, having never tried before we searched for an instructor to show us the basics. It was very cheap to take a lesson for two people costing ₹5,000 with boards, a two hour lesson and transport. The two best surf spots were Whisky Point and Peanut Farm. We began at Peanut Farm as this bay had frequent yet gentle waves perfect for newbies. The only disadvantage of surfing there was transporting your gear from the main strip in Arugam bay to either of the surfing points. Tuktuk drivers seemed to have arrangements with the hire companies to drive people to the bays as they were a fair distance away with no direct route other than a sand trail to follow. We looked into other ways of reaching the bay but there was no public transport and without a vehicle to carry surf boards we were short on options.
Our instructor was great, he showed us how to jump up onto the board and gave us a push when the waves were coming. I was surprised how easy it was to surf a few waves after only practicing for an hour in the water. I’d expected it to be almost impossible to stand up on the board and gain any decent skills in such a short time but I was proved wrong as I surfed that board into the sand! (not good for the board). Although having said that it was still incredibly difficult to catch the waves at the right time without a push as you need a lot of upper body strength to propel forwards and quickly pop up to catch the wave!